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Stella Maris Presents a Christmas Fair With Local Businesses

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second graders with sign in front of Stella Maris for christmas fair

This Saturday, December 13, Stella Maris Regional School in Sag Harbor will hold their annual Christmas Fair in the school auditorium. Although a Christmas Fair has been held at Stella Maris for nearly 25 years now, Principal Janie FitzGerald Peters said this year it is going to be a bit different. This time around, parent Kelly Bailey has taken over the organizational responsibilities for the fair and has decided to include local businesses at the event.
It all began as a craft fair, years ago, when parents and others from the community offered homemade gifts at a reasonable price. This time around, there will still be homemade items available for people of all ages, but in addition, local merchants have rented space at Stella Maris to offer affordable gifts from their businesses to the community as well.
“It’s taken different forms through the years,” Peters said, “but this is the first time we have invited different stores to take part in the fair.”
According to Bailey, there will be a combination of gifts and edible treats for the entire family. Bailey said there will be everything from kittens (from ARF) to homemade ornaments to delectable treats, including Principal Peters’ chicken noodle soup made from scratch — a favorite among her students that she usually makes for the students once a week for lunch.
“It’s tough times out there,” Bailey said on Tuesday, “we want to help our community with the idea that this will also help our local businesses.”
Bailey said that some of the local shops will offer their goods at a discounted rate for shoppers and others will offer coupons and special services. C’s Cleaning and Home & Office Management is selling gift certificates; Harbor Salons is offering their range of organic beauty products and Canio’s Bookstore will have a variety of books for people of all ages.
Other stores involved include the Wharf Shop, Andrew & Co. Brennan’s Bit & Bridle, Flying Point Surf and Sport, and Bees Needs.
“I think everyone involved knows they are doing it to help the community,” Bailey said, “It’s a tough time right now.”
Although this is Bailey’s first effort at organizing the Christmas fair, it is not her first time offering volunteer services. Bailey divides her time as a mother and interior designer with volunteering for the Sag Harbor Fire Department. Bailey will also showcase some of her own work at the fair, which includes etched glassware of images around Sag Harbor.
Some of the other homemade gifts that can be found at the fair are knitted goods, handbags, jewelry, paintings, candles, chocolate and photographs.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the result,” Peters said. There is currently a list of 25 to 30 vendors and the school is still accepting more. Bailey said the fee is $50 for a space in the auditorium and asked that anyone interested in participating call the school for more details.
“It’s hard to be a local merchant right now,” Peters added. “Mom and pop stores are having a hard time, but that is the whole back bone of our community.”
“Everyone knows it’s crunch time and its getting tougher by the day,” she continued, “but this is Sag Harbor’s strength, and the influence from the local community is one of the most beautiful things about living here.”
Peters said this is why the school has asked local businesses to get involved and they have received great feedback. For those who were unable to participate, the school has received generous donations. Some local companies are donating food that will be sold during the fair and allowing Stella Maris to keep the profits.
For example, Agave’s South of the Border has donated soup and Bagel Buoy has contributed bagels for Saturday’s event. WLNG also helped out by giving the school free advertising to promote the fair.
This year, there will also be free gift-wrapping at the fair, courtesy of the parents of Stella Maris student and other community volunteers – all of whom are donating their time on Saturday to wrap gifts for shoppers.
Merchants participating are asked to donate one item to the Stella Maris table, which will be sold to help raise funds for the school. This year, Santa will also be paying a visit to the fair on Saturday, for those who want to have their photo taken with him.
The Christmas Fair will take place in the Stella Maris auditorium, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday December 13.
Stella Maris Regional School is located at 135 Division Street, Sag Harbor. Interested vendors may call the school at (631) 725-2525 or visit www.stellamarisschool.org.

Many Pies for the Pantries

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While some middle and high school kids planned their Thanksgiving vacations this past weekend, went to the movies or played video games, a group of teens in Sag Harbor were busy making pies — four kinds to be exact — for the local food pantry.
In the basement of Stella Maris Regional School, members of the St. Andrew Youth Group, led by Denny Boyle, spent their weekend assembling and baking hundreds of pies for the food pantry and to sell to the general community in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Aroma” was the word that Janie Peters, principal at Stella Maris, used to describe not only the scent of cinnamon emanating from the school’s basement kitchen on Saturday, but the entire experience and feeling at the school over the weekend.
The busy hands of the middle and high school students in the youth group were complemented by those of local volunteers who joined them to make a difference for those who use local food pantries, including the Sag Harbor Food pantry in the basement of the Old Whalers’ Church.
Last Thursday, the race was on for approximately 45 kids in the youth group as they went to Kraszewski Farm in Southampton where they hand-picked over 40 bushels of apples to use in their annual pie-making event.
The kids tore through the fields, looking for the ripest apples to use for their apple-crumb pie — a community favorite.
Lucky for them, Tim Kraszewski didn’t charge a thing. He donated the apples for the pies and by Friday afternoon, the kids filled the kitchen at Stella Maris where they cut, chopped, sliced, cored and peeled the apples. They also prepped other ingredients for three other types of pies. As the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg filled the air and mounds of flour and sugar surrounded them, the kids — like worker-bees busy making a hive — created 452 pies for the community.
“We had a few food fights,” admitted seventh grader Ashley Nill. Classmate Diana Rozzi said although there were some flour and food fights they also put in a lot of hard work and had a lot of fun.
On Saturday, the teens worked at Stella Maris from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Several pies were sold during the annual Stella Maris cocktail party on Saturday night. By Sunday, nearly 70 pies were delivered to the Sag Harbor Food Pantry where they were distributed to needy families who came to pick up fixings for their turkey dinner on Tuesday. More pies went out to other area food pantries as well.
The pie effort was started as a simple idea more than 10 years ago by Boyle when he wanted to find a fundraiser that the kids could take part in as well as give back to the local community. The kids started out making only apple and pumpkin pies, but last year they introduced banana crème and chocolate crème pies.
This year, the numbers of those in need using the pantry at the Whalers’ Church reached an all-time high, according to Lillian Woudsma, pantry director. For their part, the kids were then put to the test to bake more pies than ever.
“It was so fun,” Anna Winchell said on Monday.
“It was good to all come together and help other people here, in Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Westhampton,” said friend Kaci Koehne.
The girls said although it seemed at times like the pie baking marathon would never end, it was fun to be a part of the madness.
“It was amazing to see them all work together,” parent and volunteer Cheryl Rozzi said on Monday.
“It was a good turnout,” Rozzi said, “it was so nice to see them all getting along so well.”
While some of the kids did the prepping, others were working the phones —taking the numbers from the order sheets they saved from the year prior to call parents and other community members to actively sell their baked goods.
“Some were saved in a database,” Peters said of the phone numbers for those who were called. “The kids also went from door to door in town asking people to purchase the pies and either keep them or donate them to the pantry.”
“The entire community was a part of the effort,” Peters said.
Boyle added, “Part of it we did for the food pantry and part of it was for the youth group.”
“Teenagers always get a bad rap, but if anyone could have seen these kids – the older helping the younger ones – it was just beautiful,” Peters said.
With hundreds of pies to bake, the youth group called on local restaurants to borrow their ovens.
“We baked in the ovens at Conca D’Oro, Il Cappuccino and the fire department, we baked all over,” said Boyle. “When you have to bake 450 pies — you had better find a way to do it.”
“The kids got really involved,” noted Jim Renner of Il Cappuccino. “Three kids came in with the pies and then asked for Fettuccini Alfredo.”
So on Saturday, Renner brought some complimentary garlic knots to Stella Maris for the kids.